It is that time of year when we all look back on the year we have had and get ready to make our lists of promises to ourselves about how we are going to improve in the New Year. Yes, I am talking about New Year’s Resolutions. We all know the old stand-bys such as losing weight or quitting a bad habit. This year I would like to make a proposal, make your New Year’s Resolutions about bringing your family closer.
I know that at this time with our economy as bad as it is, and many of us face the hardest times that we can remember. It is now, at this time of year that we need to look at all we each have to be thankful for and focus on how to make those connections stronger then ever. What are the reasons you get up each and every day and try to do your best? The answer is the family that you have around you. With a strong family bond in place, it makes even the toughest of times easier to get through. Plus you are teaching your children what is really important in life, and it will encourage them to always strive to not just do their best, but to keep them grounded and focused as they grow. I pray that we have done that with our children, as I am sure that you do.
Now that we have the right focus, our family, it is time to come up with a list of resolutions. I recommend everyone sitting down together to create this list. If everyone has input into the list then everyone is more likely to follow through on the resolutions. Besides, listening to what your kids think on how to bring the family closer may surprise you. For example, we have a 13 year old, a 10 year old and now a 1 week old. While my husband and I always include the kids in what we do (I am not kidding, the only time we have a “date” is if our children already have social engagements with friends), which to many may be obsessive on our part, but that is just the way we have always been and our children actually like it. The point I was trying to make here is that when we asked them what they wanted to see change in the next year it wasn’t that they wanted more or less time with us, they wanted alone time with each of us. So we set up “Dates with Dad” and “Dates with Mom” days.
I would like to tell you that we were great about doing this every other weekend, but we weren’t. We did do it frequently enough though that our children were happy. We also had to get a little creative with what the “dates” entailed, but it could be simply our son going with my husband to run “man errands” such as going to Home Depot or helping my husband put things together. What the kids wanted was our undivided attention for 30 minutes or an hour. It was simple, and they were happy and we were happy. It helps you know your children as people, not just as your kids, and it helps your kids to see that yes you are their parent, but you are a person that they can hang out with and talk to.
There are other things that you can do to help bring your family closer. As a matter of fact, there is a game company that has made a great commercial about “Family Game Night.” One day a week all the televisions are turned off, the video games are put away, you pick out your favorite tunes to play in the background and you all sit down together and play a game, start to finish. Our family game nights are usually either Yahtzee or rummy. We have our own set of rules for Rummy, which makes it a bit more of a challenge, but it is always fun because the kids are constantly trying to go out before their dad who usually beats us all point wise.
If games aren’t your thing and you prefer a movie, don’t go out to the movies, rent or buy one and watch it together as a family at home. Make homemade popcorn, get a couple boxes of movie candy from the store, everyone’s favorite soda and curl up on the sofa together and watch a good movie. The options are endless really. Pick the things you like to do as a family and commit to doing them more often.
Now, you should also focus on ways that you as a family can not only spend time together but make the community around you better. So one resolution that you can make is one weekend a month your family is going to have a “Treat your neighbor day,” pick a neighbor in your neighborhood and do something nice for them. This could be the elderly couple down the road who needs help taking out the trash or doing yard work or perhaps they would just like to come over for dinner. This could also be the family across the street that you know is having a hard time, so as a family you invite them to dinner and a movie at your place. For this one, it isn’t important that your children know another family is struggling, you are doing it simply to be neighborly. If you don’t want to have people over, spend a weekend baking, cooking or creating something to hand out to everyone that lives on your street. Cookies are inexpensive, homemade cards that say “I am glad we are neighbors” are also wonderful.
Finally, a great recommendation for the New Years is taking your kids and spending one day a month at the homeless shelter serving food or volunteering. When you do this as a family it accomplishes a multitude of things. First, it will make each of you appreciate each other a little more. Second, when your kids see you putting the needs of others first it encourages them to do the same. Third, it will instill gratitude for whatever you have in your lives.
The best resolutions are those your family can do together, whether it is more exercise by going on family hikes, or going to museums, art shows, or just about anything you can think of your family can do together. The best part of these types of resolutions is that they are a lot easier to keep because of family peer pressure. Just site down with your family and make a list of activities the whole family can enjoy or help with. This will help your family be accountable to each other.
Don't forget to share your personal resolutions. Make it a point (or a resolution), that everyone in the family must help and encourge each other to achieve these goals. Ahh, family peer pressure, its a pretty powerful thing.
Make this New Year, the best year for you and your family. Strengthen your family bonds with a family New Year’s Resolution list.
From all of us here at More4kids, have a Happy New Year and a great 2014!